Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky evacuated after 'accidental contamination of chemicals'

Posted at 11:07 AM, Aug 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-15 18:26:22-04

GEORGETOWN, Ky. (LEX 18) — Some buildings of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky were evacuated Monday morning after an "accidental contamination of chemicals."

Toyota says at around 9:00 a.m. Monday, a truck unloaded material outside of the paint shop, causing a reaction. Approximately 200 employees were evacuated.

According to Michael Hennigan, Director of Emergency Management for Georgetown/Scott County, a truck driver pulled up to Toyota and hooked up a hose to a tank in Toyota's “tank farm” outside the paint shop (the farm has 10-12 5,000 gallon tanks). Hennigan says the person opened the valve and 100 gallons of liquid nitrous oxide went inside the tank that had different versions of phosphorous in it.

The man quickly realized he was pouring the wrong chemical into the wrong tank and closed the valve. It caused a chemical reaction that released nitric acid gas, which is why many people in the area saw a yellow cloud. The building was isolated and airtight but one ventilation fan let some out.

Hennigan said officials flooded the contaminated tank with 3,000 gallons of water and then tested the water and air to make sure it was safe. This took four hours to complete.

Two people went to the hospital to get checked out, including one who had a “face full” of the chemicals, Hennigan said. Nitric acid gas could cause breathing problems or skin irritation.

There is no danger to the public and the chemical contamination was contained within the Toyota property.